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Finally, #Marvel has its flagship hero back and able to interact with the other Avengers. Captain America: Civil War established Spider-Man's existence in the Marvel Cinematic Universe without the need for the origin story (and he certainly entered with a bang!). But in terms of the #MCU timeline, just when does Spider-Man: Homecoming fit in?
We've already seen that Tony Stark will play a significant role in the film, so we know it happens after Civil War. But the question is, how long after?
Spider-Man: Homecoming producer Eric Carroll has shed some light on the chronology of the film in an interview with Screenrant — and it sounds like Homecoming will take place shortly after the events of Civil War but not immediately after them:
"It will be a little off. There will be some awkward chronology in that the movie comes out almost two years after Civil War, but we’re playing it like it’s a few months after Civil War. It hasn’t been years since Tony called him back. It came down to one of things we wanted to do was keep him in high school as long as possible."
Tom Holland's portrayal of the web-slinger will be in high-school for the duration of the movie, unlike previous films that had him graduate and start college. The plan for all of his solo films is for each one to take place during a different school year.
This is where the problems lie; the MCU films generally take place years apart, so it begs the question: will certain Spider-Man films be set in the past?
Carroll went on to explain why they've fiddled with the timeline:
"This is a fun, different take. If we say that it was actually two years after Civil War then he’s moving on, he’s a senior, and when the next movie comes out, it’s his sophomore year of college, and we really wanted to do multiple movies where he’s in high school."
Keeping the character young is important to Marvel, due to the relatable nature of a teenage Peter Parker. He was always more than just the guy in the suit; he had real problems — whether these were bullies at school, helping Aunt May pay the bills or relationship troubles, fans felt a connection to him. He wasn't perfect and that's why we all love him.
Doctor Strange Already Went Back In MCU Time
Most of Doctor Strange took place in the MCU's past, with the climax of the film bringing it right up to date. Plus, James Gunn has already commented that the imminently arriving Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 will take place shortly after the first film, not years afterward — so there's no strict rule about how MCU time corresponds to real-world time.
And, of course, Marvel already gave us a look at the MCU's distant past in Agent Carter and Captain America: The First Avenger, allowing for a glimpse into the beginnings of a number of MCU staples — the S.S.R. was the precursor to S.H.I.E.L.D., for example.
Agent Carter was excellent and it offered a unique perspective on the MCU. Many fans were disappointed when it was canceled (myself included!) as it felt like there was a lot more to see from Peggy Carter. If anything, it proved that period programming in a comic book universe can work. Perhaps one day we'll get a vision of the future too.
We All Want The Best Spider-Man Film, No Matter When It's Set
Ultimately, it comes down to this: Spider-Man is Marvel's biggest superhero, and they want to create the best possible version of him on film. This is why it was so important that the deal was made with #Sony to allow him to appear in the MCU in the first place. If Marvel decides to focus each Spider-Man film on a year at high school, then they should go for it.
Eric Carroll revealed that Marvel definitely has a plan for the wall-crawler:
"[W]e would be strategic about where future Spider-Man movies fall in the MCU... Because again there’s nothing in it for us or for Sony to accidentally start competing or putting a movie out at the wrong time or confusing the continuity."
Even though each Spider-Man movie might take place over a different year at high-school, it's still vital that they fit into the wider continuity. If there's one thing Marvel has proven over the years, it's that they can certainly play the long game.